Meeting discusses concerns following paramilitaires' march on Parliament
Translation by CHAN news service of an article published on Agence Haïtienne de Presse, Friday, April 20, 2012.
Port-au-Prince, Friday, April 20, 2012 – A meeting was held Thursday evening between representatives of the Conseil Supérieur de la Police Nationale (CSPN) and the international community 48 hours following the incursion into Parliament, then in full session, by dozens of armed individuals in military fatigues. Legislators were in the midst of forming a committee to study the case of prime minister nominee Laurent Lamothe.
Without providing details, the minister of justice as well as the spokesman for MINUSTAH (United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti) have confirmed the meeting took place. Minister Pierre-Michel Brunache stated in a telephone conversation with Radio Solidarité that nothing concrete had come from it.
Meanwhile, the Legislature (lower chamber of Parliament) suspended what was a full session, pending clarification of the matter of the armed men claiming to be former members of the armed forces of Haiti that was disbanded in 1995. Consideration of the nomination of Laurent Lamothe was postponed until next week.
The decision to summon the CSPN appears to have been made by Prime Minister Gary Conille, who declared on Wednesday his deep concern over the April 17 incident. Conille has resigned but remains in office until his replacement is approved.
Conille said in a communiqué that he condemns with utmost severity the incursion of armed individuals claiming to be “demobilized soldiers” into the Chamber of Deputies and disrupting its orderly functioning. “Clear instructions have been given to Minister of Justice Michel Pierre Brunache as well as to the Director General of the National Police, Mario Adrésol, to correct this assault on the public order.”
The former prime minister also demanded that the minister of justice call an emergency meeting of the CSPN with the purpose of taking all necessary measures to guarantee public order and peace, the communiqué states.
A Council of Government convened by Conille on Wednesday was shunned completely by all the ministers present in Port-au-Prince, an attitude described by Senators Kély Bastien and John Joel Joseph as "rebellious."
The incident in the Parliament has provoked a number of angry reactions. Most of the them stress that the latitude these individuals enjoy complicates even more an already torubled social, economic and political situation. In addition, it is not known who can persuade these individuals to respect the law. They apparently have access to unlimited resources.
In fact, measures to disband them or to keep them off the streets, announced by everyone in positions of power, have produced no results. For the time being, the authorities can't issue enough condemnations.
“The President of the Republic condemns the deployment of individuals in military fatigues in front of Parliament,” said a communiqué from the president's office dated April 18. “The presidency wants peace and order maintained throughout the national territory and reminds everyone, once again, that the formation of a new public armed force can only be brought about with order, discipline and respect for the existing laws. Any infringements will bring down the severity of the law,” the communiqué adds.
The Ministry of the Interior, Territorial Collectivities and National Defense, in turn, harshly condemned the presence of individuals in military fatigues in front of the Haitian Parliament on Tuesday, April 17, 2012. "The Ministry of the Interior declares to each and everyone that under no circumstances will the government tolerate armed individuals, acting outside the law, continuing with impunity to disturb the public order," declares a note in which the ministry says it is aware of the social and economic problems faced by the former soldiers and reiterates the will of the authorities to take all measures, in accord with the law, to respond to those needs.
But members of the Parliament denounce the tolerance and failings of authority, or worse, complicity. “If the presence of armed men does not disturb the government executive it is because it is comfortable with the situation,” says Kély Bastien. His colleague Andrice Riché believes there is a hidden force behind the acts of these men claiming to belong to the former armed forces. "No paramilitary force can exist in the country without the blessing of the powers that be," said Andrice Riché, who believes that democracy is in danger.
In the Legislature, members announced they will observe a work stoppage until the executive provides explanations. The first secretary of the Legislature, Jude Charles Faustin, has announced that until explanations are provided, no work will be done. The examination in the Legislature of documents on the prime ministerial nomination was planned for this Thursday. It has been postponed until next week. The nomination has already been approved in the Senate.
Laurent Lamothe reaffirmed on Wednesday his democratic convictions in the exercise of legislative power. He declared that he does not condone in any way the behavior of the men in military uniform.
Questions are being asked about the passivity of MINUSTAH forces at the moment when armed men were in the immediate vicinity of legislators and the worst could have happened. Surrounded by controversy, MINUSTAH is supposedly assigned by the UN Security Council to promote and protect democracy.